While most guides and sport anglers are taking a well-deserved break before the winter steelhead season kicks into high gear, several storms are once again bearing down on the North Coast. Rain is in the forecast for at least the next seven days, which just might keep the rivers at unfishable levels well into next week. The Smith and Chetco will be the first to drop and clear, and the plunkers should arrive in force. The Humboldt rivers, including the Mad, Eel, and Van Duzen will need a little more time in between storms before they’re fishable. While very few winter steelhead have made their way into the rivers as of yet, you can almost bet we’ll see the first wave arrive when the rivers finally recede.
Weekend weather/marine forecast
The forecast for the next seven days is looking very wet according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The rain will begin to fall Wednesday evening and will likely be with us through Friday. Rainfall totals for Thursday and Friday in the Smith basin could be up to three inches, with up to two inches falling in the Eel and Mad basins. Showers will taper off on Friday evening and Saturday is looking somewhat dry. The rain will return on Sunday, with another half to one inch predicted for the Smith and up to one and a half inches in Humboldt. More rain is forecasted for Monday, and showers are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. It’s a little far out there, but the models are showing a pretty wet system moving in next Thursday,” Kennedy added.
The weekend forecast for offshore crabbing doesn’t look great. Friday’s forecast is calling for W winds 5 to15 knots, with waves W 12 feet at 14 seconds. Saturday is looking slightly better, with winds out of the E 5 to 10 knots with NW waves 10 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday is looking better, with SE winds 5 to 10 knots and NW waves 8 feet at 11 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan
Cash not an option for fishing license purchase
Beginning January 1, 2017 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will no longer accept cash at CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch and regional license counters. Individuals who want to make payments at CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch or a regional license counter can use checks, money orders, or any debit/credit card with the Visa or Mastercard logo.
The “no-cash policy” will hopefully improve customer and employee safety, department efficiency, customer service and provide cost savings.
Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing reports the Chetco is full of half-pounders at the moment. He said, “Last Thursday we landed a half a dozen while side-drifting. The salmon fishing was surprisingly good on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a fish per rod reported. There were some nice bright kings on the lower end, near the North Fork, as well as near Ice Box. Fishing slowed on Sunday. We caught a few salmon last week on the steelhead gear while side-drifting, and others running plugs in the typical salmon spots. The river is expected to blow out from Friday through the weekend.”
Not many signs of steelhead this past week on the Smith reports guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “I was on the water last weekend and the only thing we really saw was half-pounders. We’re definitely in a transition phase, which is fairly typical this time of year. We don’t normally see the first real big push of steelhead arrive until right around Christmas time. We’ve got a few pretty decent storms coming in the next few days and it looks like Sunday might be the only day where side-drifting will be possible,” Coopman added.
Main Stem Eel, South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, and Mad
All were fishable as of Wednesday, but that will likely change with the rain coming on Thursday. All are forecasted to see fairly large flow increases starting Thursday morning. With rain in the forecast for at least the next seven days, it could be a while before these rivers drop back down to fishable levels. Very few winter steelhead were caught on any of the rivers, but that should change when they drop back down and turn green. For river level predictions, visit http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov
The weather has really turned cold this week reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. He said, “A few mornings were in the upper 20s. The fishing remains about the same, we’re seeing one to three adults a day with a few half pounders mixed in working from Lewiston down to Cedar Flat. The majority of the boats are working the Junction City area where the pressure has been pretty heavy with the clear conditions. We could really use a good amount of rain to mix things up. Fishing was better on the plugs this week with the colder water and clear conditions.”
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